Archive | Life Events RSS feed for this section

Not What I Want, But What He Wants

21 Oct


By: Tom Heck

Not What I Want, But What He Wants

                We had a way-old Farmall tractor that we used for years on the farm here to do a lot of light work. My son, Joshua, ran it a fair bit and actually owned half of it. Over the last few years though, we started to have a lot of problems with it. We liked the tractor and so we tried to get it fixed. We took it to an experienced mechanic several different times to get it fixed, and yes, he would get it running decent for a little while, and then it would quit again. It really gets frustrating having it quit in the middle of the day when we’re using it to put up crops.

So the decision was made by all of us that we should start to look for a different used tractor. Now in the past when we went tractor shopping, I would normally decide what model I wanted to buy. So this time, I was thinking of a couple different model numbers we should be looking for. To my surprise though, Joshua told us that he was interested in a 656 Farmall. That was not what I was expecting at all. I had absolutely no experience with that model tractor. So we talked it over. It turns out that he has a friend who has one and he really likes it.

So now I have an unexpected decision to make: what model tractor do I pursue? I thought and prayed about it for several days and decided to go for the one he wanted. Joshua had already let me know that he wanted to buy half interest in the next tractor that we got. I know he would have gone along with any tractor I bought, but down in my heart I wanted to please him. He works very hard on the farm here, and I knew that whatever tractor we got, he would be running it a lot. So I wanted to bless him. So I said to Joanne, “Not what I want, but what he wants.”

So in February, we started looking for 656 tractors for sale. To our surprise, we couldn’t find any in our area for sale. So I started looking in newspapers and on the computer for them. I wasn’t having too much success, although I did find a couple in Minn. and a few down in Iowa. I told Joshua about it, and to my astonishment, he instantly grabs a tractor magazine that he gets with a really nice looking 656 in it for sale at a decent price down in Iowa!

I didn’t want to run way down to Iowa to look at a tractor, and what happens if the tractor isn’t very good and I come home empty? It’s one thing to drive a few miles and look at a tractor, and turn around and come home without it. I’ve done that a lot of times in the past. But to drive 224 miles down to Iowa and then turn around and come all the way back home is a lot.

Well, I wasn’t finding a tractor close by, and I really wanted to please my son, so I called the owner of the tractor up that my son had found and asked him a lot of questions about it. From the answers he gave me, it sounded like a very good tractor. I also called on a couple other tractors in the area down there in case this one fell through. Then I called a friend of mine up that does a lot of trucking to see if he would be able to haul it home for me. Eric was more than willing to do it.

We got up way early one morning and started the barn chores, and then I left with Eric while it was still dark. It turned out to be a bright sunny day, and we arrived at the tractor place shortly before noon. I checked the tractor over good and ran it some. There were some small issues with it, but buying a tractor that old, I kind of expected that. I bought the tractor and we headed home with it.

My whole family was anxiously waiting for us to get home to see if we had a tractor with us or not. Well, they weren’t disappointed; they were all smiles when they saw it.

We went to work getting it fixed up and modifying it some so that it would work well on our farm. And it has worked very well for us over the last several months. Having never run a 656, I was pleasantly surprised how nice a tractor it was. Matter-of-fact, it’s my favorite tractor to use for baling hay and Joshua greatly enjoys unloading chopper boxes with it.

But, there’s a greater blessing in this than what I realized: that’s the joy of giving my son what he wanted, and seeing him so happy with it. God is the same way; He loves to bless His children with good things. We need to seek Him and ask Him for the things we need, and then let Him abundantly bless us with those things. And then of course, we need to thank Him for those things. We’re all thankful here for the 656, and Joshua has thanked me a number of times for it with a big smile on his face. What more could I ask for?cimg0943

Joshua with his tractor.

Doing What’s Right – Even if it Costs

28 Jul


By: Tom Heck

Doing What’s Right – Even if it Costs

                We bought our farm in 1991, and I learned very quickly that it was impossible to get my crops planted early in the spring. It was usually late May before I could work the land and plant my seed. The problem was I had so many wet spots in my fields that wouldn’t dry out till then. By planting that late, it really cut into my crop yields. Back then, I was way in debt and couldn’t do anything about it though.

Then, 1993 came along, the year of rain, rain and more rain that caused so much flooding throughout the Midwest. I did get our crops planted, which was remarkable, but there were plenty of ruts left in my fields to show for it!

I figured my haying would go better, after all, I wasn’t pulling heavy tillage equipment through the ground. I was just cutting and harvesting the hay off of the land. Think again! I had a small, light Farmall 560 tractor pulling a nine-foot-wide haybine. And it sunk in nearly up to its rear axles. Then I did the only thing I knew to do: I called up my neighbor, Howard Sr., and asked him to come down and pull me out. He was more than happy to give me a helping hand, and brought down his International 1466 with dual tires on it and pulled me out.

Well, with all the rain, we had a tremendous crop of hay. Somehow, between all the rain and mud, we got our hay made that summer. We were so blessed to have such a large crop of hay put up to feed our dairy cattle over the winter.

Our corn crop was a totally different story though. I had planted our corn mostly on our low ground and it looked terrible. It was way short with real small ears on it. By leaving a lot of ruts in my fields, I managed to get it chopped off and into the silo. It filled my silo only a good half full. In a normal year, I could have filled it full and had a fair bit to combine. So now I was forced to buy all the grain that I needed to feed my cows for the next twelve months.

During all this time, I kept looking over at my neighbor’s crops. They were doing real well, and he wasn’t getting stuck in his fields either. I did a lot of thinking that winter and said to Joanne, “I think we should look into putting drain tile into the upper corner of our farm here. If we would have had it in this last growing season, it would’ve made a huge difference in our corn crop, and would have helped our hay out a lot too.” She was open to it, but questioned whether we could afford it.

I called up a man that installs drain tile for a living and had him come and look it over. He readily agreed with me that drain tiling that part of the farm would make a large difference in our cropping operation. He then gave me a price quote on it, and it nearly floored me. It would cost over $5,000. We were making so many payments on so many loans at that time, that there was no way that we could afford it, and I told him so.

I could see he was deep in thought as he went to his truck and drove up the road to my neighbor’s place. Little did I know what he was up to! He went to my neighbors to ask them one question: “Was I good for my word and my money?” They said, “Yes.” Then he came back down to my place and told me what he had just done. To say I was surprised, would be an understatement! He then told me he would install the tile early in the spring, and that I could make monthly payments to him till I had him paid in full. The Bible is most certainly correct when it says, “A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches.” Proverbs 22:1.

Joanne and I talked it over and agreed to it. Early in the spring he showed up with his equipment and went to work. As soon as he had the tile installed, the water started to pour out of it. We got our crops planted the earliest ever that spring, and got the most beautiful crops off of that part of the farm that we ever had by far.

The next spring I was out there in the field working ground when an older man in a pickup stopped by the edge of my field and walked out to me. He introduced himself as Richard, and explained that he farmed the land way over on the other side of the freeway from me. He commented how nice my fields were looking, and I told him what a difference the drain tile had made. He agreed and said it had made a mess for him in one of his fields. It turned out that the water coming out of my tile line was going through a long culvert under the freeway and coming out into one of his fields. That field of his had been wet to farm already, but now it was much worse.

I told him I was sorry and that I had no intentions of causing him any harm. Richard replied, “Well we have a problem now.” I said, “What do you suggest we do about it?” His response was to run a tile line from the edge of the field were the water was coming in at, over to the creek. He went on to say that since it would really benefit and improve his field he would pay for half of it and he wanted me to pay for the other half. Richard figured my half would come to $1,000.

I swallowed hard, a thousand dollars was a lot of money for us. But, I said yes to it because I could see that what I had done was hurting him. The Bible clearly teaches us that we are to bless our fellow man, not hurt him. And if we do accidently hurt him, we are to make it right the best we can. So to say, “Yes” was not a hard decision to make.

Richard called up the drain tile man and told him that I was going to pay for half of it. Then a very upset drain tile man called me up. He told me that I had no business paying for half of it. State law says that once the water leaves my property, I have no responsibility over it anymore. He said in a court of law the judge would favor me. In other similar cases the judge always had favored the landowner upstream. I told him that I didn’t care about that. What mattered was that I had hurt Richard and that it was only right for me to make amends for it. That would be pleasing to God, and to Richard, and to myself. Well, he didn’t see it that way and hung up very upset.

Richard got the tile line put in and sent me a bill for over $1,200 which was a fair bit more than he had estimated. I paid it and was thankful to have the mess I created straightened out. Even though the law may have been on my side, and I wouldn’t have had to pay a penny, it wouldn’t have been right. It is always best to do what is right in God’s eyes. When we do, we are always blessed and there are no regrets with it.

Dixie – A Very Special Cow

15 Apr


By: Tom Heck

Dixie – A Very Special Cow

                Sometimes in life there is a person or animal that always brings a smile to your face when you cross paths with them.  I have one cow here that always does that for me.  Her name is Dixie and she is one very unique individual.

When she was born a few years ago, she was a very small calf and totally black.  From day one, she was always a very friendly, cute calf.  As she grew, she stayed that way.  It didn’t matter if Dixie was on the barnyard or out in the pasture, she would always want to come up to us and nose us and want to be petted.

Dixie learned fast that besides getting petted there were also other benefits to being such a pet.  One thing I would do every once in a while would be to slip her an apple.  She really likes apples and will munch one down in a few seconds.  Since we have several apple trees on our farm it’s easy to sneak her one quite often in the fall of the year.  She thinks it’s absolutely wonderful when we do this for her.

I had a problem arise here a couple years ago though, when we were publishing our book, the publisher wanted a nice picture of me on our farm for the cover of the book.  Well, I thought right away that I should have one of my cows or heifers in the picture.  It would have to be one that would pose well with me, and I wanted it out in the pasture in God’s beautiful country.  I knew that it would have to be Dixie.

The publisher told us that he wanted us to take a lot of pictures for him, because he’s really picky when it comes to choosing the right picture for a book cover.  Now I had two problems, one was that Dixie would only cooperate naturally for a few pictures before she would just walk away.  Now I knew if I had apples I could keep her there for a fair number of pictures, but it wasn’t apple season.

So we talked it over as a family and decided we needed to find something else that Dixie would really like that would keep her attention for a lot of pictures.  We tried a number of things and finally hit the jackpot with her: black licorice jelly beans!  She absolutely loves them.  The amazing thing is that I’ve given them to other cows, and they will take them into their mouths for a few seconds and then will always spit them out.  But Dixie will never spit one out; she just wants more and more of them.

As a result, we got about 100 pictures of the two of us for the publisher, which made him very happy.  But now I have to keep buying black jelly beans for Dixie!  Every day when I come into the barn she eyes me up with her big brown eyes and her ears perked all up to see if I remembered her favorite treat.  And if I have one for her, her tongue will come way out to take it right out of my fingers.  To get those black jelly beans is the highlight of her day.

Dixie is one of the smallest cows in my barn, but a very special one.  Sometimes a cow will surprise us, and she really surprised us here a couple weeks ago.  She was due to give birth, we were expecting one calf, but Dixie decided she had to reward me for all those black jelly beans, and she gave us twin heifer calves!  We were absolutely amazed.  So afterwards, to let her know that she had done an exceptional job, I petted and rewarded her with four black jelly beans.

                Since Dixie is one of the smallest cows in my barn, she’s also one of the lower producing cows.  But, she’s special and she does well for her size.  So it is in God’s eyes, we are all very unique and special and greatly loved by Him, even if we’re not big name people.  For those of us who know and follow God, He promises that surely goodness and mercy shall follow us all the days of our lives.  And what’s more is that we will dwell in the house of the Lord forever!


                                               Tom with Dixie.

A New Door

5 Feb


By: Tom Heck

A New Door

                I have seen over the years how God oftentimes answers prayer in totally unexpected ways.  And then, I don’t realize He’s doing it until it’s done.  What an amazing God we serve.  Such is what has happened here in the last couple of years.

It was nearly three years ago that I went before our cooperative creamery board and addressed them on their decision to start to sell alcohol along with their cheese to increase profits.  I told them how alcohol contributes to so many broken lives, families and marriages.  I also told them how drunk driving causes so many accidents on our roadways, hurting and killing so many people.  The board shrugged off my comments saying, “We have liability insurance so we’re protected.”  I was shocked at their response.

As Christians, we love our fellow man and want to bless him, and not hurt him in any way.  On our dairy farm here, we seek to produce high quality milk that will be processed into high quality dairy products that consumers will buy and put on their tables to bless their families.  It has bothered us greatly that our creamery was processing our milk into cheese and selling it alongside the alcohol.  So we have prayed very much about this situation.

And then this last November, something totally unexpected happened.  The vice-president of one of the largest butter and cheese manufacturing facilities in Wisconsin had read a bunch of my writings and invited us for a personal tour of his facilities.  Needless to say, we jumped at his invitation.  So, on a cold November day, he led us through his butter and cheese manufacturing facilities.

To say we were impressed by him and his manufacturing facilities would be an understatement.  We were amazed!  All of the technology and equipment used to process and package the butter, cheese and other by-products was incredible.  But, that isn’t all of it.  We were greatly impressed with all the workers throughout the facilities also.  The combination of excellent workers, with high quality milk and outstanding production facilities leads to superior dairy products.

When we left that day, we thanked the vice-president for a once-in-a-lifetime tour.  We will remember it the rest of our lives.  On the way home, we talked a lot about what we had all seen that day.  And each one of us was wondering down inside if we should be shipping our milk there.

So after talking and praying about it as a family over the last several weeks, we have decided to leave our old creamery and sell our milk to this one instead.  This one does not sell alcohol and actually pays a premium price for high quality milk.  They really want high quality milk because they strive to produce outstanding dairy products.

                As of January 1st our milk is going to this new creamery.  We here are all excited about it.  We know this is an answer to prayer.  The main motive in our lives is not making money; it’s serving God.  We count it a privilege to serve God in farming here, and to produce high quality food that blesses people.

It Was Absolutely Wonderful

7 Jan


By: Tom Heck

It Was Absolutely Wonderful

                We had some very special friends in this last summer for a picnic.  They had all traveled from a long ways; some had even come from foreign countries.  Since none of them were dairy farmers, we knew having them to our farm here would make for a very interesting day.  They were surprised at many things on our farm here, but in the end the biggest surprise was on us!

They marveled at all the machinery and equipment that it takes to dairy farm here in Wisconsin.  They had hundreds of questions to ask about the machinery here: what each piece was used for and how it worked exactly.  After answering their questions the best I could on that, then they had a lot of questions on the crops we grow to feed our cattle.  I took them out into one of our hayfields that had alfalfa and orchard grass growing in it.  They found this extremely interesting.  They had never seen this before, which surprised me.  They asked me if I was familiar with some certain forage crops that were grown in their country that looked somewhat similar to my hay crop here.  They named them off and I had to admit that I had never ever heard of those grasses and forage crops in my life.  This was proving to be very interesting and educational to all of us!

After this, it was off to see the cattle.  They really admired them and wanted to know all about them.  How we take care of them, how we feed them and how we milk them.  They were also amazed when Bronson came with his large milk truck to pick up our milk.  They watched him get our milk.  I could see he was real uneasy about it, especially since a number of our guests were talking in their native languages!  It isn’t everyday that our milk hauler has this happen to him.

While we were doing all this though, a couple of our guests were sneaking around here with Catherine.  What were they up to you ask?  Well, they had found out that Joanne and I were about to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary in two weeks.  So they had decided to surprise and bless us.

They put up a bunch of wedding decorations in front of our house and then just before we were to sit down for our picnic dinner they blindfolded Joanne and myself and led us out in front of our house.  When they took our blindfolds off, we were absolutely shocked!  We never expected anything like this at all.  There on a card table was a beautiful wedding cake.  Next to it stood Catherine with the veil Joanne had worn 25 years before.  Mark, one of our guests that pastors churches in Paris, France, picked up his book to remarry us all over again.  But, Joanne with tears in her eyes had to stop him and run and get our vows from 25 years before.  And then we got married all over again. After that we had our picnic dinner and some wonderful fellowship.  It was the most wonderful day of the whole year for us.

Yes, it’s absolutely wonderful to be married to Joanne, the bride God chose for me.  I have never regretted marrying her.  I love her with all my heart and count it a privilege to go through life with her everyday serving God.  It truly is the most wonderful life possible.

It’s wonderful how God made marriage a holy and sacred covenant only to be entered into between a man and woman.  The Holy Scriptures clearly say in Mark 10:6-7, “But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female.  For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife.”  When we follow God’s ways, then we live the most blessed lives possible.  If we go against God’s ways then it brings heartache and misery.  And in the end certain judgment.



   Joshua, Joanne, Tom and Catherine.

A Disappointing Surprise Under the Christmas Tree

10 Dec


By: Tom Heck

A Disappointing Surprise Under the Christmas Tree

                For many years, we had a forage blower here that we used to blow chopped hay into our big silo.  Over the last several years, we had a lot of problems with it.  We finally decided it was time to get rid of it and get a new blower.  All four of us were in favor of that, especially Joshua, since he was the one who used it the most.

Joshua had already been looking at machinery advertisements and been reading up on the different blowers on the market.  He had his selection narrowed down to two different ones.  So with that, I got a lot more information on the two and priced them both out at local machinery dealerships.  Men from both dealerships came out to our farm last year in early December and looked at our old blower that we were trading in and gave us price quotes.  The one that we liked best turned out to be a little cheaper than the other one which really surprised us.  But, it’s O.K. to be surprised that way once in a while!  So we set our focus on getting that one.

I called that dealer up a few days later and told him I would take it for the agreed upon price. He said, “Sold.  We’ll deliver it in the spring.”  So we were all really happy here that we were getting what we believed to be the best forage blower on the market for a good price.

Now, in our family here, we love to give each other lots of good gifts under the Christmas tree.  So as the days go by in December, more and more gifts get put under the tree.  Since I had a blower bought, and Joshua was so looking forward to the new blower because of all the troubles he had had with the old one, I decided to put a picture of it into a box.  I put a note in with it telling him it was for him to use and then wrapped it up.  I knew this would really bless him.  Then over time, I put more gifts under the tree for him.  The pile of presents under the tree continued to grow.  Now a lot of the gifts under our tree don’t cost a lot, but it’s the love with them that counts!  We all love to give gifts and we all love to open them.

Everything was going fine, until a few days before Christmas, the dealer called me on the phone early one morning and said he couldn’t sell me the blower at that price!  I was shocked.  I said, “What? We had agreed on the price and you told me, ‘sold’.”  “Yes,” he said, “but I can’t keep that deal.  You see I can’t get that blower for the price I thought I could.  Somehow there’s been a mistake in the computer and it’s going to cost me more so I have to have $400 more from you.”  I was shocked that he wouldn’t keep his word and said, “Good-bye.”

To my amazement, a few hours later he drove into my yard with a bunch of invoice sheets.  He told me he thought he had better stop in and explain the situation to me.  With that he showed me on the papers that the blower was costing him $400 more than what he originally figured.  As I quickly glanced at his sheets I was absolutely amazed.  He told me originally that he was only making 2 to $300 over the invoice price.  Now as I looked at his sheets I saw that he was making well over $1,000 more.  I quickly pointed this out to him and his face turned color.  He realized in trying to justify himself he had made a big mistake in showing me his paperwork.  He said a few more words and said he had to have the extra money.  I sternly said, “Good-bye.”  With that, he left.

Now I could’ve paid the extra money, but I refused to do so.  The man had outright lied to me and he broke his word.  The Bible says a man ought to keep his word and not break it, even if it’s to his own hurt.  Needless to say, I haven’t done any business with him since, nor do I intend to in the future. For if a man will lie and break his word over a little bit of money, how can you trust him at all?

So now I was faced with a problem: in a Christmas present under the tree, I had a note to Joshua telling him that I had gotten a new blower for him to use this next year.  And I had no idea what present it was in!  So I couldn’t go under the tree and get rid of it.

Well, Christmas came and we opened our presents.  When Joshua opened the blower present he was surprised and super happy.  He had no idea that I was going to put that under the tree for him.  But then I had to tell him the whole story.  The expression on his face just fell!  I went on to tell him I was going to try and get that model blower from some other dealer.  I told him I couldn’t guarantee that I could get one, but that I would do my best.  Joshua understood and took it well.

It wasn’t long after that, that Joshua started looking for other dealers that carried that line of equipment.  He found one close by that I didn’t know even carried it.  I called him up and shortly thereafter he came to our farm.  He looked at our old blower and gave me a price quote for a new one.  Now was I ever in for a surprise.  He quoted me $850 less than what the other dealer originally quoted me!  I bought it right there on the spot.  And true to his word, when spring came he delivered us our new blower.  Joshua was all smiles, he got his big Christmas present after all, and I must say that the new blower worked excellently.  Since then he has thanked me a number of times for getting it and we are all thankful that we didn’t get it from a man that we couldn’t trust.


Unloading haylage into our new blower.

~ Rattlesnakes

11 Jan

My grandfather was Paul K. Heck of Mondovi, Wis.  My mind always goes back to him around this time of year.  He was born on July 14, 1898, west of Mondovi in Canton township.  He lived to be about 95 years old.  For many years he dairy farmed northwest of Mondovi in what is known as German Valley.  The early settlers in that valley were all of German ancestry, that’s how the valley got its name.  My grandfather farmed there many years before moving into Mondovi to live.  Oftentimes in my single adult years, after milking my parents’ dairy cows in the evening, I would go to my grandparents’ home and visit with them.  They had excellent memories and such a wealth of information from years gone by.  The following account is one that my grandfather told me one evening, that I’ll probably remember the rest of my life.  I’ll do my best to retell it here now.

Continue reading